Saturday, March 31, 2018

Oconee County Commission Candidate Wants More Residential Growth In County

***Turning Farms To Subdivisions***

John Laster, in a meeting with local Republicans last week, left little doubt about the pro-development views he would bring to the Oconee County Board of Commissioners were he to win the Republican primary on May 22.

Laster said he wants to see continued residential development in Oconee County, “and, to me, that is a great privilege for our land to no longer grow crops but grow communities.”

Thursday, March 29, 2018

State Senate Candidate Tells Oconee County Democrats Country Needs Gun Laws In Response To School Violence

***Says School Shootings Motivated Her To Run***

Marisue Hilliard, who helped found the local chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, told Oconee County Democrats last week that she was motivated to run for the Georgia Senate from the 46th District by gun violence.

Hilliard listed healthcare and education as other issues she will focus on in the campaign, but she said the need for “common sense gun laws” is what led her to seek public office for the first time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Oconee County Participants State Support For Openness In National Forum On Immigration

***Concerned Other Views Not Represented***

The small group assembled at the Oconee County Library to discuss immigration expressed one significant disappointment at the end of its two-hour long deliberation.

There was much more agreement among the participants than disagreement, those engaged in the conversation said, and the discussion was limited because of it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Speakers Tell Oconee County Commissioners They Oppose Permit For Apalachee River Intake Facility

***Ask For Re-evaluation***

Citizens filled the Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chamber tonight (Tuesday) to voice opposition to the plans to pump water from the Apalachee River as part of planned future expansion of the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir in Walton County.

Those who spoke acknowledged that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had granted a permit for withdrawal of water from the Apalachee River in 2004 but argued that the decision should be re-evaluated in light of the need for modifications to and extension of the permit.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Citizens Plan To Address Oconee County Board Of Commissioner On Proposed Apalachee River Intake

Follow To Morgan County Meeting

Residents living along the Apalachee River in Oconee and Morgan counties who are concerned about the impact of a proposed water intake facility on the river plan to attend the Oconee County Board of Commissioners meeting tomorrow night to seek support.

The gathering will be a sequel to one the group, now organized under the name Greater Apalachee River Community, held last week with the Board of Commissioners in Morgan County.

A Proposal To Restrict Slab Home Construction In Oconee County Stirs Home Builders To Action

***Citing Market Demand***

A proposal to greatly restrict the use of slab foundations for single-family dwellings in Oconee County has met with strong negative reaction from at least a segment of the local development community.

More than 50 people crowded the room for the Planning Commission meeting last Monday night to make clear their opposition, with at least that number, maybe more, crowded into the hallway outside.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Students At Oconee County March For Our Lives Rally Ask For Action On Gun Violence

***Nonpartisan Event***

More than 200 people of all ages showed up for the March For Our Lives rally at Oconee Veterans Park today, which ended with the plea from two North Oconee County High School students for action.

“Those who do not support common sense gun legislation are putting their wants for guns above other people’s rights for life and safety,” Piper Cyterski, the first of the North Oconee County High School students to speak, told the group.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Army Corps Of Engineers Rejected 2017 Request For Waiver Of Public Comments For Intake Facility For Hard Labor Creek Reservoir

***Comment Deadline Is Today***

Consultants for the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir project asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in July of 2017 to bypass the public hearing process and allow construction of an intake facility on the Apalachee River to pump water to the reservoir in the future.

The Corps indicated that it would reject the request for a waiver of a public hearing process in August of last year.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Commercial Development On Cliff Dawson Road Dominates Final Discussion Of Steering Committee For Comprehensive Plan Update

***Citizens Voice Concerns***

The final meeting of the Stakeholders Committee charged with shaping the 2018 Comprehensive Plan was supposed to be a tidying up session ending with Committee approval of the document for public review and government adoption.

Instead it turned into a lengthy discussion of the possibility of commercial development on the western end of Cliff Dawson Road as it meets Mars Hill Road.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Georgia Department Of Transportation Explains Plans For Truck Bypass Of Bishop To Citizen Advisory Committee

***Meeting Room Full***

The Georgia Department of Transportation rolled out its plans for a truck bypass of Bishop as part of its upgrade of U.S. 441 to a generally receptive Oconee County Citizen Advisory Committee last (Monday) night at Oconee Veterans Park.

The plans were unchanged from those previewed to the Bishop City Council last week and call for a close-in, two-lane truck bypass on the east side of Bishop that would begin at Astondale Road on the south and reconnect with U.S. 441 on the north at High Shoals Road.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Original And Alternate Sites For Apalachee River Intake For Hard Labor Creek Reservoir Found Not Feasible

***Power Plant Has Water Rights***

The Walton County Water and Sewer Authority asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to modify its permit for an intake facility on the Apalachee River after determining that not only its original site but three of its four alternatives are not feasible.

Rights to the water that the Water and Sewer Authority wanted to withdraw from the original and the three alternate sites are protected under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permit for a power plant located on the river just upstream from the SR 186 bridge over the Apalachee River.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Oconee County’s Joe Hunt Says He Has Skills From Business That Will Make Him A Good Representative In Washington

***Challenging Jody Hice***

Joe Hunt says he can remember when he first started thinking about challenging incumbent Jody Hice for the Republican nomination to represent Georgia District 10 in the United States House of Representatives.

Hunt said he didn’t vote for Hice in either of Hice’s two previous elections in 2014 and 2016 and wrote his own name on the ballot in 2016, when Hice had no opposition.

“When I walked out of the booth in November of 2016,” Hunt said. “I looked at my wife and said, ‘That cannot happen again.’ If no one else is going to do it, then it is my responsibility to do it.”

Friday, March 16, 2018

University Of Georgia Tells State Department Of Transportation Of Concerns About Truck Bypass Of Bishop

***Could Move Equestrian Facility***

The University of Georgia Athletic Department has told the state Department of Transportation that it has “serious concerns” about the proposal to build a truck bypass of U.S. 441 on the eastern side of Bishop bordering on the university’s equestrian facility on Astondale Road.

Athletic Director Greg McGarity acknowledged the “commitment from GDOT to mitigate the noise associated with the construction of the bypass as well as the actual traffic associated with the completed bypass.”

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Morgan County Asking Corps Of Engineers To Hold Public Hearing On Hard Labor Creek Permit

Public Meeting Also

Morgan County will ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to hold a public hearing on the request by the Walton County Water and Sewer Authority for an intake facility on the Apalachee River in Morgan County and for an extension of the permit for withdrawal of water from the river.

The county also will ask for a public meeting with the Water and Sewer Authority, engineers for the project, and the Corps to answer questions from the public about the project, according to Morgan County Manager Adam Mestres.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Democratic Candidate For Oconee County Board Of Commissioners Seat Withdraws

***Two Democrats In Education Board Race***

The Oconee County Democratic Party lost its sole contender for a Board of Commissioners seat yesterday (Monday) morning when Tyra Byers withdrew from the race.

Byers, a program coordinator at the University of Georgia, had filed on the last day of qualifying on Friday to run for Post 3 on the Board of Commissioners.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Georgia Department Of Transportation Proposing Truck Bypass Of Bishop

***Plans Revealed To Bishop Council***

The Georgia Department of Transportation has developed an alternate plan for improvements to U.S. 441 that involves a close-in truck bypass on the east side of the City of Bishop.

Officials from GDOT presented the broad outlines of the plan to the City Council of Bishop on Monday night, where it got at least some support.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Extension Of Withdrawal Permit To Transfer Water From Apalachee River To Hard Labor Creek Is Up For Federal Review

***Intake Facility Not Yet Needed***

The Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board in August of last year asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for an extension of its permit to withdraw water from the Apalachee River, but it has not yet received that extension.

The original permit expired on Feb. 28, 2014, and had been extended to February of 2019.

Oconee County Democrats Qualify Candidate In Board Of Commissioners Race

***May And November Ballots Set***

Tyra Byers qualified as a Democrat for Post 3 on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners on the final day of filing on Friday, bringing to three the number of county races to be contested by both parties in November.

Incumbent Republican Chuck Horton, who holds Post 2 on the Board of Commissioners, did not get any Democratic or Republican challengers, meaning he will run unopposed in the May 22 Republican primary and in the November 6 general election.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Busy Day Of Qualifying On Thursday Leads To Contests For Oconee County Board Of Education Seats

***No Democrats For County Commission***

In a busy day of qualifying Thursday, a Democrat and a Republican filed to run for Post 2 on the Oconee County Board of Education against incumbent Republican Amy Parrish, who qualified on Tuesday.

Andrea Wellnitz filed for the Democratic primary, and Adam Spence filed for the Republican primary.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Oconee County Schools Train Staff In Civilian Response To Active Shooters, Board Of Education Members Told

***Surveillance Cameras In Place***

Dallas LeDuff, director of Student Services for Oconee County Schools, assured members of the Board of Education on Monday that Oconee County Schools have procedures in place to provide safety at the system’s campuses.

Included, LeDuff said, are surveillance cameras in every building and on each school bus and security vestibules at the school buildings with remote locking mechanisms that deny access to the students in the schools.

Incumbents On Oconee County Ballot In May Primaries Get Challengers

***Two Republicans, One Democrat***

Three incumbents whose names will be on the Oconee County ballot for the May 22 primary elections picked up challengers in qualifying on Wednesday.

Joe Hunt, an Oconee County businessman, filed to run in the Republican primary against U.S. Representative Jody Hice.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Residents Along The Apalachee River Gave Notice To Oconee County Commissioners Of Their Concerns About Proposed Intake Site

***Unusual Votes On Appointment***

Residents along the Apalachee River concerned about the location of a proposed intake for the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir in Walton County communicated their uneasiness to the Oconee County Board of Commissioners last (Tuesday) night.

Liz Marchant, 1011 Riverbanks Road in the Riverwalk subdivision in Morgan County, told the Oconee County Commissioners in brief comments at the front of the meeting that she wanted them to be aware that residents along the Apalachee River are not content with the proposed intake location.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Incumbent Oconee County Commissioners And Board Of Education Members Qualify

***Hice Draws Opposition***

Oconee County’s two commissioners and two Board of Education members whose terms expire at the end of this year have qualified for re-election.

All four are Republicans, and no one has come forward in the first two days of qualifying to compete against any of the four in the May 22 primaries.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Citizens Along Apalachee River In Oconee And Morgan Counties Oppose New Intake Facility For Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir

***Seek Public Hearing***

Residents living along the Apalachee River turned out in force on Sunday, producing a petition after nearly two hours of discussion with 73 names on it directed toward the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Petitioners are asking the Corps to hold a public hearing on a previously undisclosed decision by the Hard Labor Creek Regional Reservoir Management Board to move its planned intake site on the Apalachee River from High Shoals to several miles south in Morgan County.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Oconee County Democrats Sponsoring March For Our Lives Rally On March 24 At Veterans Park

***BOE To Get Report On School Safety***

The Oconee County Democratic Committee is sponsoring a local March For Our Lives Rally from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 24 at Oconee Veterans Park.

The local event is part of a national day of demonstrations following the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Oconee County Review Committee Approves Plans for Buildings For Land Between Jennings Mill Road And Oconee Connector

***Extends Medical Complex***

The Oconee County Development Review Committee approved the preliminary site plans for two additional buildings on the now-cleared land between Jennings Mill Road and the Oconee Connector at SR Loop 10.

Those plans calls for a 21,020 square-foot-building to house University Surgical Vascular and a 9,972 square-foot-building for an office of The Commercial Bank.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Republican Candidate For Lieutenant Governor Told Oconee County Republicans The Party Will Retain Its Hold On State

Expects Light Turnout For Primary

Rick Jeffares, running for Georgia lieutenant governor, told Oconee County Republicans that he doesn’t expect the Republicans to loose any state offices in November and that the party is likely to control state politics for at least eight to 12 more years.

Jeffares, from Henry County, said he expects fewer people to vote in the May 22 Republican primary than voted in the primary four years ago.